Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 21:54:59 -0600 (CST)
From: Sylvia Edwards <>
To: English Language Discussion Group <WORDS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
Subject: WHTMIH

What happened?

I don't know. I started a little coughing on Nov. 5. I woke up Nov. 6 with bigger cough. Called in sick so I could rest up for the wedding, Nov. 15.

Went back to bed. Slept until 2 p.m. or so. Took a shower. Ended up short of breath. Tried deep breathing to "catch" up. Had succeeded. Phone rang.

Lisa was calling.....very upset and in tears. All kinds of plans unraveling. As I try to give comfort, I discover I can't talk and breathe at same time. After telling her far too many times that I can't talk. I can't breathe. We end phone pant.

I call doctor's office. Nurse listens to me panting and says get to hospital. I knew I couldn't drive. I was home alone. I called 911.

I wait. Again working on taking long deep breaths. Door bell rings. I answer the door. I discover a great need to sit down because I can not get a breath.

Panic. The medics do all the famous respiratory rescue stuff. It doesn't work. Can start an IV, the breathing tools seem to suffocate me. Two guys over who has priority to do what first.

I climb from chair onto guerney. Have a thought or two about maybe not making it to hospital. Am told I have to go to nearest hospital. Rush out to drive. Street full of kids. Time is 3 p.m.

Spend long damn time in driveway. I'm playing mental solitaire. I keep losing.

Finally arrive at hospital. I am unconscious at this point. I am not breathing on my own. I have this tube stuffed down my throat.... not an easy task since in lungs, throat, chest (Heart sac) are filled with fluid.

When I begin to come to I am told to be quiet. Do not talk. I notice only that "Hey, I'm breathing." Then I notice that there's tape all over my face and my mouth is sealed over some god-awful chunk of plastic that seems to be gagging me. I go back to playing solitaire and fade in and out.

[ 2 ]

The ER staff finds my purse....yes at one point I was lucid enough to insist that someone give it to me so I'd have insurance cards.

They call Scott at home. He had a 10 hour class all day and was doing his Algebra homework for his three hour class Thurs. evening. He is told that they have his mother in ICU at Lee's Summit Hospital. He says, "No way. You're joking. She's in her room asleep." They told him to check. I wasn't there. He dashes to hospital. Frantic . That's all I know of his version.

We're told I have pneumonia and have also sustained pulmonary and cardiac edema which caused pulmonary/cardiac failure. I might have also had a heart attack, but no one knew. Lots of vampire feedings later, the jury was still out. Some tests said yes other said no. The final vote was heart failure, but not an attack.

Time in ICU suspended. Friday was at least two weeks long. At some point a feeding tube was added and I was taking nourishment by left nostril.

Nice part of Friday and Saturday was LOTS of morphine. Three different painkillers were being used, so I could have drugs every hour. Some hours I did.

Life in ICU means someone is poking, prodding or picking on you constantly. X-Ray comes to you, but they make their house calls at 4 a.m. and expect lucid responses to the photo shoots. (Hi Betty, lots of wlms about you.)

[ 3 ]

Finally I'm admitted to a room. I'm having regular coughing fits. I'm put in a private room at semi-private rate.

Vent is removed. Slime flies every where. Slowly other tubes are removed. When I'm down to two IV's, I can go upstairs. NO ONE in ICU or ER has any desire to try to run another IV in my veins. My veins are deep, delecate and dedicated to remaining unpoked. They down periscope at first sign of invasion. I now have purple polka dots on hands, arms and stomach. WORST IV site has to have been the one at the base of my lift thumb.

Upstairs is a whole new world. I'm on my own to do what I can. I do all right.

They have decided to feed me lots more than I eat. I fill out menu and someone adds to it. I would like to have a few words with the person who decided my second meal of "real" food needed to include the following: raw carrots, broccoli and cauliflower; boiled cabbage; cooked broccoli and cauliflower; carrots and peas. I ate the cooked carrots and drank the grape juice. I decided I liked the full liquid diet much better.

[ 4 ]

Through the week I begin the get well two step. My lungs which were clear on Sunday, showed new pneumonia on Monday. On Wednesday I went into heart failure. No one is sure when I can leave, but insurance company is saying "GET her OUT." As long as I'm adding symptoms, a case can be made to keep me hospitalized.

Today, Friday, I was booted out. All kinds of sickroom things have been moved in. I'm "housebound" until December. I have a whole pharmacy on my kitchen table, two oxygen machines, a 50 foot leash and other fun things.

For the first time in months, my fingers are eczema free. I was also diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in my neck and shoulders (NOW that was indeed a series of glamour shor